#SleptOnSoul: D’Wayne Wiggins’ ‘Eyes Never Lie’ by Michael A. Gonzales [FULL ALBUM STREAM] @gonzomike @DWayneWiggins @TonyToniTone1

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It was the winter of 1996 and Tony! Toni! Toné! was on the verge of falling apart. A few months before, as the group was set to release their best, and ultimately last, album House of Music, they were fighting with one another in the way that only family can: mean and vicious. Assigned by Vibe magazine to write a feature on the trio, the publicist told me that lead singer and bassist Raphael Saadiq (Wiggins) wanted to be interviewed separately from his older brother and group founder D’Wayne Wiggins, who was also the lead guitarist, and their (play) cousin and drummer Timothy Christian Riley. Read more of this post

#LongPlayLove: Raekwon’s ‘Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…’ – Celebrating 20 Years by Justin Chadwick @justin_chadwick @Raekwon @GhostfaceKillah @RZA @WuTangClan [FULL ALBUM STREAM]

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Happy 20th Anniversary to Raekwon’s debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, originally released August 1, 1995 on Loud Records and RCA Records.

To be sure, the ascendance of the mighty Wu-Tang Clan was impressively swift following the Staten Island crew’s landmark debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) in the fall of 1993. As their devoted fan base rapidly expanded, demand for new Wu-Tang material exploded. The group responded with ample supply in the form of the proliferation of stellar solo albums that emerged in the few years between Enter the Wu-Tang and 1997’s sophomore effort Wu-Tang Forever. Thankfully, due to RZA’s sonic perfectionism and the superior rhyming acumen of the respective Wu-Tang emcees, the quality of output was never compromised for the sake of quantity. Read more of this post

Joss Stone Evolves Her Sound on Refreshing New Album ‘Water for Your Soul’ by Ericka Blount Danois [REVIEW + INTERVIEW + FULL ALBUM STREAM] @erickablount @JossStone @Stonedrecords

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Joss Stone’s seventh solo album Water for Your Soul arrives in stores today, via her label Stone’d Records, and features musical inspiration from around the globe. Stone is currently on a true world tour (a “Total World Tour,” as she calls it) with the intention of hitting every single country on Earth. She says Swaziland in southern Africa has been her favorite gig so far, and she has picked up new instruments in India and other countries, not to mention different styles of singing, sounds, scales and ways to record. Read more of this post

Tish Hyman’s “Subway Art” Will Give You Goosebumps [FULL VIDEO] @listen2tish

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Bronx native Tish Hyman is a remarkable talent whose voice will give you goosebumps, and her recent attention-grabbing single “Subway Art” and its visually gripping video are all the proof you’ll need. A sobering tribute to the “lonely people” and “broken dreams” that fill the big city, on “Subway Art” Hyman—who has recently collaborated with Alicia KeysKanye West and Fabolouspaints a vivid picture of the unseen and sings on behalf of the unheard. The realness of the track’s content is definitely to be appreciated by all who can relate. With a vocal style and range eerily reminiscent of, dare we say, Lauryn Hill, but with a unique sound all her own, Hyman is an artist destined to break through soon enough. Read more of this post

Prince Laces the World With New Funky Number “Stare” [FULL STREAM] @3rdeyeboy @3rdeyegirl

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Driven by a strong, stiff baseline and accentuated with sharp horns, this new track is fun and reminiscent of some Golden Era Prince bootlegs.  Almost demo-esque, we really enjoy the track and hope radio will jump on board and bring some much-deserved awareness to this one. Read more of this post

Who is Jill Scott? A ‘Woman’ [ALBUM REVIEW + STREAM] by Victoria Shantrell @MsAnomalous @missjillscott

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This month marks 15 years since Jill Scott released her debut album, Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. The highly acclaimed piece of work boasts classics like “Getting in the Way,” “He Loves Me,” “The Way, “A Long Walk,” not to mention nearly every other song on the album. Who is Jill Scott? will be touted as one of the best contemporary R&B albums for many more years to come. Scott followed up her debut album with, my personal favorite, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2. But somewhere along the way, instead of producing dope albums, Jilly from Philly began giving us decent collections with a few good singles. Read more of this post

‘Unsung’ Explores the Story of Hip-Hop Pioneers Whodini [FULL EPISODE] @GMDWhodini @tvonetv

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Hailing from New York City, the birthplace of hip-hop, Whodini emerged as one of the game’s most charismatic pioneers. Their R&B infused sounds earned them a spot among the Golden Age’s most memorable MC’s. Revisit the story of Whodini and their new jack swingin’ ways in this episode of TVOne’s Unsung.

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Lion Babe’s Dazzling New Single is “Impossible” to Resist [FULL VIDEO] @LionBabe @Jillonce @Astro_Raw

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Well, hot damn. The soulhead team’s Tuesday is off to an unexpectedly energized start now that we’re completely immersed in Lion Babe’s brand new single and video “Impossible.” It’s no secret that we’re HUGE champions of the gifted New York City based duo comprised of sultry songstress Jillian Hervey and talented instrumentalist Lucas Goodman. And their latest offering “Impossible,” from their much-anticipated forthcoming debut album due out later this year, solidifies our unconditional devotion and proves, yet again, that they are an electro-soul-pop force to be revered and relished. Read more of this post

Nasty Gal: On Betty Davis by Michael A. Gonzales @gonzomike @nucomme

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This summer marks the 30th anniversary of the Black Rock Coalition (B.R.C.), an arts organization founded by Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, writer/musician Greg Tate and filmmaker Konda Mason. Their mission is to educate the public on the contributions of colored folks in the pale-faced world of rock-n-roll, while also facilitating opportunities for those who do their thing on stage and in the studio.

Although Black folks definitely made significant and enduring contributions to the invention and ascendance of rock-n-roll, we have often been forced to prove that we’re good enough to actually play it. Chuck Berry, Big Mama Thornton, Little Richard, Arthur Lee, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone, Phil Lynott, Bad Brains, Death, Ernie Isley, Brides of Funkenstein, LaBelle, Rotary Connection (featuring Minnie Riperton), Prince, Living Colour, AR Kane, Felice Rosser, Garland Jefferies, DK Dyson, Cindy Blackman and TV on the Radio be damned, all the Rocks Against Racism, Black Rock Coalitions and Afro Punks in the world won’t change narrow minds on the subject of race when it comes to rock-n-roll music. Read more of this post

Disclosure Unveils Sam Smith Blessed “Omen” of Great Sounds to Come from Forthcoming Album [FULL VIDEO] @disclosure @samsmithworld

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Two years have rapidly passed since Disclosure’s breakthrough debut LP Settle took the globe by storm. So it comes as no surprise that the UK duo’s forthcoming sophomore long player Caracal is one of the year’s most eagerly awaited albums. Thankfully, the group has diligently released a few teasers over the past few months to ensure our appetites are sufficiently whetted. First up was the infectious house banger aptly titled “Bang That,” followed by the shimmering electro-soul euphoria of “Holding On” featuring the incomparable Gregory Porter. Read more of this post

#LongPlayLove: Masta Ace’s ‘Take a Look Around’ – Celebrating 25 Years by Justin Chadwick [FULL ALBUM STREAM] @justin_chadwick @mastaace @marleyskills @djmistercee

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Happy 25th Anniversary to Masta Ace’s debut album Take a Look Around, originally released July 24, 1990.

Twenty years or so ago, more than a few people suggested to me that the insatiable passion for hip-hop I cultivated throughout my teenage years would fade as I grew older. They argued that as my lifestyle, responsibilities and values were destined to change with age, I would invariably refine my musical appetites, gradually moving on from the hip-hop of my younger years. Admittedly, the latter half of their prophecy has proven to be true. I have indeed expanded my musical tastes well beyond hip-hop throughout the past few decades. Even the most cursory glance at my record collection and iPhone playlists reveals just how much of a musical adventurist I’ve become, as I approach the conclusion of my fourth decade. Read more of this post

Can Never Say Goodbye to ‘Cooley High’ by Michael A. Gonzales @gonzomike

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Even hardcore Motown aficionados might have problems telling you much about soul singer G.C. Cameron, who stayed on the label as a soloist after his first group The Spinners left for Atlantic Records in 1972. Although he was married to Berry Gordy’s sister Gwen, nobody quite knew what to do with him. Three years later when Motown signed on to supply the soundtrack for a small film called Cooley High, his emotion-stirring song “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” was the only new Hitsville tune used in the movie, which also featured The Supremes’ “Baby Love” and Smokey Robinson crooning “Ooh Baby Baby.” Read more of this post

Who is Knox Robotic? Learn More with This Gem from His ‘Manic Robot’ EP [FULL STREAM] @ImjKnox

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Who is Knox Robotic?

To be honest, we only know the basics. Knox Robotic is a musician/songwriter/producer from Holt, Michigan. His most recent work is a 5-track EP entitled Manic Robot, which dropped in 2014. What we also know is that his music is full of incredibly refreshing sounds perfect for the Summer season. We stumbled upon this track “Good Bi Girl” and it’s definitely a gem from the EP. If you’re interested, you can hear the rest of “Manic Robot” on Knox’s Soundcloud page. Knox Robotic’s Twitter page alludes to some new music on the horizon, so stay tuned. Read more of this post

#LongPlayLove: Jill Scott’s Debut Album ‘Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1’ – Celebrating 15 Years by Justin Chadwick [FULL ALBUM STREAM] @justin_chadwick @missjillscott @djjazzyjeff215 @hidden_beach

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Happy 15th Anniversary to Jill Scott’s debut album Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, originally released July 18, 2000.

Moving from Los Angeles to New York City in the summer of 2000 is the second wisest decision I’ve ever made. The first? Well, heeding the sound advice of my good friend, who persuaded me to stick around our local bar for one more drink that late October evening nearly ten years ago. About fifteen minutes after heeding his advice, I serendipitously met the love of my life, the incredible woman who would become my wife a few years later. But back to that close runner-up of a decision. In August of 2000, a restless soul of just 22 years and one year removed from my graduation from UCLA, I had grown indifferent toward my life in West L.A. Desperately craving a change of scenery and a lifestyle recalibration, so to speak, I ventured east to New York. And more precisely, the neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Read more of this post

#CrateClassics: The Essential Albums of The Brand New Heavies’ Funktastic Discography by @justin_chadwick [FULL ALBUM STREAMS] @BrandNewHeavies @andyheavies @JanKincaidTBNH @SimonBheavy @msNDeaDavenport @DeliciousVinyl

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[Editor’s Note: “Crate Classics” is a new recurring soulhead column that pays homage to the essential albums of artist discographies. While the LPs featured here are chosen thoughtfully and passionately upon exploring the respective artists’ recorded repertoire, the selections also reflect our subjective preferences. So of course, we encourage all soulhead readers to weigh in with your personal favorites in the comment section below.]

Citing the “Minister of Super Heavy Funk” James Brown as the inspiration for their band name, the London-bred trio of Jan Kincaid, Simon Bartholomew and Andrew Levy formed The Heavies—later rebranded as The Brand New Heavies—in 1985. After nurturing a devoted fan base across the local London club landscape for a handful of years and helping to elevate the burgeoning Acid Jazz genre in the process, the band earned widespread acclaim with the 1991 North American release of their self-titled debut album. In the nearly twenty-five years since their eponymous breakthrough LP, the Heavies have blessed our ears with eight stellar studio albums, all firmly rooted in the group’s signature confection of funk, soul, jazz and disco, with sprinkles of hip-hop incorporated here and there. A rotating roster of lead vocalists notwithstanding, the band has managed to produce some of the most consistently invigorating and sophisticated sounds around. Much respect. Read more of this post

Evelyn “Champagne” King ‘Unsung’ [FULL EPISODE] @evelyncking @tvonetv

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“Unsung” revisits the life and career of Evelyn Champagne King.

Born in the Bronx, NY and later relocating to Philadelphia, PA, it was family that exposed Evelyn King to music. Her uncle performed in a Broadway opera, her dad sang back-up for groups at the famous Apollo theater, and she and her mother worked at Philadelphia International Records. It seems, then, that it was only a matter of time before Evelyn King found a way to make her contribution to music. Read more of this post

OVO Sound is Back With A 20-Minute Mix from Majid Jordan [FULL STREAM] @OVOSound @WelcomeOVO @majidjordan

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The Canadian duo Majid Jordan has decided to whet the collective appetite of their fans with an unannounced mix posted to their SoundCloud page. The mix is a compilation of sounds including some brand new material as well as remixed bits from their debut EP A Place Like This which dropped one year ago this month. Drake, the captain of OVO Sound himself, forewarned us that his label would be making noise in 2015, hopefully this mix is a sign of more new material to come. Read more of this post

#SummerSOULstice 1991: Revisiting De La Soul’s “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’” & “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” by Justin Chadwick @justin_chadwick @WeAreDeLaSoul @PlugWonDeLaSoul @DeLaSoulsDugout @DJPrincePaul

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[Editor’s Note: Summer SOULstice is a new nostalgia-fueled soulhead column that revisits the memorable songs that have defined the summers of our past. We hope you enjoy these sonic strolls down memory lane, and stay tuned for more classic tracks to be celebrated throughout the summer.]

With good reason, De La Soul is one of the most universally beloved hip-hop groups of all-time. In fact, a compelling case can be made that they are one of the most revered musical acts of all-time, regardless of genre classification. As evidenced by the recent outpouring of fan support for their Kickstarter campaign designed to fund their forthcoming LP And the Anonymous Nobody, the love that people possess for De La Soul runs deep. For more than a quarter-century, the charismatic Long Island-bred trio of Posdnuos, Mase, and Dave have blessed the world with undeniably addictive music, infused with a distinctive, Native Tongues-flavored mix of wry wit, unabashed humor, beautiful beats, and of course, plenty of soul. So when I discovered their crowdfunding initiative earlier this year, my contribution to the effort was less a conscious decision than it was an automatic reflex, activated by my undying gratitude for all of the wonderful music De La Soul has delivered throughout their storied career. Read more of this post

#SleptOnSoul: Jill Jones’ Self-Titled Debut Album by Michael A. Gonzales @gonzomike @jilldjones

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Even before Prince earned a vanity label from his slavemasters at Warner Brothers Records, he was already delivering wonderful funk and dance albums for his so-called protégés The Time, Vanity 6 and Shelia E. Making most of the music himself, at least as far as the artists’ debuts were concerned, Prince was a musical chameleon who flowed from the bottom-heavy soul of The Time to the electro-erotica of Vanity 6 to the percussion pop of Shelia E., while also churning out his own outstanding albums on a yearly basis.

While there were collaborators, be it Andre Cymone, Morris Day, Jesse Johnson, Wendy & Lisa or David Z., it’s obvious it was all about Prince’s vision as he became an aural Howard Roark constructing his own rhythmic fountainhead. After the chart success of side-projects that Prince often created under the monikers Jamie Starr, as well as the mega-blast that was Purple Rain, his royalness was granted the keys to the kingdom from Warner Brothers in the form of a state-of-the-art studio in his hometown of Minneapolis and a record label; both were named Paisley Park. Read more of this post

#SleptOnSoul: Amy Winehouse’s ‘Frank’ by Michael A. Gonzales [FULL ALBUM STREAM] @gonzomike @amywinehouse

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Dolled-up like a Phil Spector creation doo-wopping on a Bronx boulevard, Amy Winehouse came into most Americans’ homes with the release of her second album Back in Black in 2006. Even before I heard her voice, my friend and writer Bob Morales was raving about this girl from England who musically merged her love of old school soul and dusty hip-hop in a way that wasn’t corny. After burning me a CD, I immediately understood Bob’s attraction to that damaged dame singing about avoiding rehab, the plight of love, and her affection for Nas.

While some surface listening folks wanted to chide her for “trying to sound black,” as though white girls like Winehouse weren’t part of Berry Gordy’s pop dreams, there was a wrenching sincerity in her songs that made you realize that the blues in R&B were universal. Co-produced by Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, whose fame meter skyrocketed afterward, Back in Black sounded like nothing else on the scene at the time as the music delved river deep, mountain high into the retro-sounds of Motown, the Brill Building, and every girl-group that ever shoo-wopped into a microphone. Read more of this post

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